Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘married men’

Falling in Love with a Married Man

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

tender anguish and exciting unfulfillmentThis was originally written long ago with Monica Lewinsky on the mind, but perhaps it will continue to guide other young people as they make decisions about who they spend their time with.

1956: Falling in Love with a Married Man

Very little has ever been written about falling in love with a married man. It is supposed not to happen. Yet it is not at all uncommon, especially among teen-age girls, and even among older women, too. The reasons are understandable.

Married Men are Older. For the teen-age girl, the married man is usually older and therefore, in her eyes, more experienced and mature. We have already seen that girls mature earlier than boys of their own age. So it often happens that a girl who is growing up much faster than the boys around her thinks that they are childish and silly and finds herself dreaming about the charms of older men. The married men she has contact with ~ the coach, a teacher, perhaps the principal, or a minister ~ seems so much more grown up and excitingly mature that her love interests turn to them rather than to the boys of her own age who are still just “children.”

Girls may do foolish things in their attachments to older men. They should guard themselves from becoming either too obvious in their infatuations or too deeply engrossed inside themselves. Fortunately, most girls outgrow this stage fairly soon and may look back upon these early crushes with amused wonder. But while emotionally entangled with the older man, it is not funny at all.

The Romance of Unfulfillment is Different. Not being able to do something about love makes the romance especially exciting. When one loves a boy of one’s own age and kind, who is a possible fiancé and husband, one can date and dream and plan for a common future. One’s friends can talk about the plans and one’s family may tease. One is free to tell the world about his love and its great promise. It pours out in a thousand ways.

But loving a married man gives no such outlets. It just isn’t done. Almost no one can be told about how wonderful he is. There can be no plans that give promise ~ nothing but dreams that go around and around, tenderly reliving his possible light touch, the way he looks, the way one feels about him, and the utter hopelessness of the affection. Love with no place to go tends to be absorbing, tensely frustrating, full of tender anguish and exciting unfulfillment. With all its excitement and romance, it still has no future, no place in our fullest lives.

Society Scorns the Other Woman. In almost all triangles involving married persons, it is the unmarried outsider who is blamed for the affair. Marriage is such a sacred institution that any girl or woman who alienates the affection of the married man is apt to be held in contempt by most people. The girl who wants to punish herself will find that getting involved with a married man is a sure way of doing it. Girls who are going through difficult days in breaking away from their parents may unconsciously get themselves into disgrace as a way to hurt their families. They find that social disapproval falls fast and hard upon the heads of the silly school girls who do it.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ pp. 316-17, 320-21 ~

The Plight of the Other Woman

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

zig when she zagsQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I am seeing a married man, who has a four-year-old daughter. He tells me that he loves me with all of his heart, and that his marriage is going to end soon, and for me to just be patient, and he will be with me. What should I do? I do love him.

The Other Woman

A Dear Other Woman:

When Nina Farewell talks, Miss Abigail listens, and you might consider doing the same. The following is from a chapter in The Unfair Sex, which closes with an utterly simple, yet ever-so-important thought: “If you settle for less, you will always feel cheated.” Now that’s what I call advice!

1953: Don’t Have an Affair with a Married Man

The most unsatisfactory lover in the world is the man who has a wife. A liaison with him is encumbered with all the customary inconveniences of a love affair, plus the irritation of having a rival who outranks you.

In every aspect of your relationship with him, you feel her influence. The very hours you spend with him are dictated by her tastes and her schedule. If she loves a gay social life, you can be sure her husband will seldom be at your disposal in the evening ~ you must content yourself with odd hours during the day. If she is the athletic type, it is unlikely you will ever get to go sailing, fishing, or golfing with him. Whatever her habits, you must at all times be prepared for the sudden cancellation of a carefully planned rendezvous and equally prepared for an unexpected message that he is free ~ just when it is least convenient for you.

You have no choice but to zig when she zags, and zag when she zigs. And heaven help you if she is a woman who frequently changes her mind!

Of one thing you can be sure ~ your lover will not spend Christmas, New Year’s, or Easter Sunday with you. All the important dates on the calendar belong to his wife and children, and you will be forced to celebrate with relatives or female friends ~ a sad prospect for a lively girl. Manless amid the festivities, you will look about indignantly at other women proudly displaying their escorts.

When you do get together, your married beau, with recommendable caution, will rule out all the nice places to which you ask to be taken, and you will pass the time tucked away in some little room or in your own apartment. This has the value of being economical as well as discreet ~ important considerations for a family man. . . .

The most cogent argument against having an affair with someone else’s husband, is that

Married men virtually never marry their girl friends.

Men hate divorce. They dislike the nuisance of moving, and besides, they resent paying alimony. If a man can possibly endure his wife, he will stay married to her.

In any event, the fact that a man takes a sweetheart does not indicate that he prefers the sweetheart to his wife. Not at all. Ninety times out of a hundred he would be aghast at the idea of trading his good old wife for some wanton stranger.

Can a girl really be happy with the humble assignment of amusing a man who belongs to someone else?

Source: Farewell, Nina. The Unfair Sex : An Expose of the Human Male for Young Women of Most Ages. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953.
~ pp. 205-208 ~

Is He Available?

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Louise spotted him first!Q Dear Miss Abigail:

How’s a girl to know if a guy is available? I mean, checking for rings is all well and good, but how can I tell if a guy’s not married or if he’s even into girls? Can Helen Gurley Brown or any of your other relationship sages help me out here?

Not Quite Sure

A Dear Not Quite Sure:

Though most of the books I consulted did not address such a problem (perhaps the married men back then were much more open about their affairs), Ms. Brown and Jean Baer have a few tips for you. We begin by demonstrating some tell-tale signs with a few stories from Sex and the Single Girl.

1963: The Homosexual

I remember dating an attractive boy who worked for a broadcasting company. We were at his apartment playing Monopoly and I felt at any moment he would stop putting up hotels on Boardwalk, pass “Go” and make a pass at me. It was high time. About this point the phone rang and it was his roommate. This was their conversation: “Hello, Ralphy? Where are you?Where?! Oh, Ralphy, I don’t like those people and you promised you wouldn’t see them! Do you have your topcoat with you? Good. It’s kind of chilly. I left some marinated herring in the icebox for you. Oh, nothing much. I’m playing Monopoly with a girl.”

So I concentrated harder on getting up some hotels on Park Place.

[In a later section, the author suggests eavesdropping as a means of gathering the necessary information. Read on… ~ Miss A.]

Where to Meet [Men]: Traveling on Business

Louise, on legitimate business as a traveling fashion consultant for a bra and girdle company, spotted an elegant, steely man on the train down from New York. He was seated across the aisle with a beautiful older woman, slathered in mink from chin to hem (not the wet-rat kind but opulent, pulsating mink).

Louise listened to their conversation (finding it a damn sight better than her thoughts) while pretending to sleep. During the miles of eavesdropping she gleaned that the man was an attorney, probably single, as he never talked about his wife, and that he was a family friend of the woman’s ~ she had five children. They had met on the train accidentally and she called him Marcus. As Louise feigned sleep, she even heard them talking about her. They thought she looked tired and seemed rather young and alone, and surmised she might be traveling on business. Louise, feeling a bit warped and woofed from days on the road, thought this couple as shimmery as Prince Ranier and his Grace ~ or at least Grace’s mother.

At 30th Street Station in Philadelphia when she couldn’t get a cab, the dapper attorney came to her rescue. His lady friend had departed. He said strangers in their city often hadn’t the knack of hailing taxis and he offered to share his with her. Bliss, thought Louise. Pure Bliss!

Source: Brown, Helen Gurley. Sex and the Single Girl. New York: Giant Cardinal/Pocket Books, Inc.,1963.
~ pp. 24-25, 48-49 ~

1969: The Married Man

In the big city, you meet married men everywhere ~ at the water cooler, a convention, a meeting, an afterwork cocktail party, a bar, over a friend’s dinner table when he’s that charming gentleman on your right.

He may ask you out to dinner. You find him fascinating and much more mature than some just-starting youth with a two-year-old degree. He makes another date ~ for lunch!

And that’s your first clue that he is a married man. Other signs: he never asks for a weekend date; he always asks you out on Tuesday evenings (easy to plead a mid-week conference to his wife); he carries a brief case (his excuse for late work at the office); he commutes (it’s a rare single man who lives in Chappaqua, Winnetka, San Mateo, or Short Hills).

Source: Baer, Jean. The Single Girl Goes to Town. New York: Bantam Books/Macmillan Company, 1969.
~ p. 104 ~